For just the second year, NASCAR will visit Austin, Texas, for the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The first road course event of the schedule offers teams a chance to test out the new race package. Road courses used to be specialized tracks, but that has changed in recent years. Following this weekend’s races at COTA, there will be five more road courses. Last year, heavy rains cut short the event, but this Sunday the weather is predicted to be warm and sunny. There will be both a practice session and qualifying on Saturday. The practice session starts at 10 am, followed by pole qualifying an hour later.
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A decade ago, the pool of potential road course winners would have been relatively limited. In today’s NASCAR, the field has become a little more wide open. A total of four different drivers won at the seven road course races last season. There is no doubt that Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson will be highly sought after this weekend. The odds for Elliott to win the weekend are the best in the field, while Larson is right behind him.
In the wake of a weekend where owners stocked up primarily on dominators, the strategy will immediately shift toward place differential. The course measures 3.426 miles in length, making it one of the longest on the schedule. Due to the length of the track, there will be 68 laps completed, which works out to 17 points on DraftKings. It doesn’t leave dominators with a lot of meat on the bone.
This week, the Money Train delves into the DFS options for Sunday’s Cup Series event in Austin, TX. The selections are broken down between high salary, mid-range, and value play. Included are player salaries from both FanDuel (FD) and DraftKings (DK). Best of luck to everyone with lineups this weekend.
Chase Elliott (14,000 FD | 10,500 DK)
It was not without controversy that Elliott won the first-ever COTA race last season. Elliott’s strategy to reach the lead required him to stop for fuel one more time in the closing laps. It would be a torrential downpour that would save him. Even if you disagree with his winning, the man keeps finding ways to get it done on a road course. Half of his last 14 road course attempts have resulted in wins. Elliott, the lone Hendricks driver without a win, will have an excellent opportunity to change that. It makes sense to pick him up if he qualifies on pole due to his skills on a road course. Should he qualify in that top eight, he becomes a must-have.
Ross Chastain (9,200 FD | 8,200 DK)
After a pair of rough races to start the season, Chastain has since roared back with a vengeance. His streak of three straight top-three finishes beats every other driver in the series. At Atlanta, he had to come back from two laps down to finish second. Perhaps his best performance at the Cup level so far. During the road course tour last season, he came out firing. Chastain rattled off three top-seven finishes in his first three starts. But as we went deeper, he began to cool off quite a bit. Being in only his first year with Trackhouse Racing, Chastain so far appears to be quite capable of competing against the big fish in the sport.
Erik Jones (6,800 FD | 7,400 DK)
During Jones’ COTA debut last season, he wasn’t fantastic, but he was solid enough to help you score points at a bargain price. Five of the seven races Jones ran on a road course last season saw him best his starting position. His best finish was seventh at Indy, which he started as deep as 29th. Further, Jones’ ability to keep his car on the lead lap needs to be emphasized. As we’ve seen with some of the more prominent drivers, this isn’t always easy to do on the road course. In the last 10 road races, Jones completed every lap but one.
Chris Buescher (7,500 FD | 7,300 DK)
Due to the wreck on the final straightaway, Buescher lost the chance at a podium finish. The situation could have been much worse, as we saw with many of the drivers. After finishing tenth in Phoenix the week before, he adds this performance to his string of top 10 runs. Buescher will strive to maintain the momentum in his home state. In the inaugural COTA, he finished 13th, demonstrating his value as a place differential plug. He gained 15 positions during that event. Buescher should qualify in the top 20, making him a solid investment. Nine out of his last 10 tries, he has finished in the top 18 or better on a road course.
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